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February 24, 2024

Dricus Du Plessis Dethrones Sean Strickland to Become New UFC Middleweight Champion at UFC 297

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Jan 21, 2024

Introduction

In the main event of UFC 297 on January 21, 2024, Dricus Du Plessis pulled off a massive upset by defeating Sean Strickland via unanimous decision to become the new UFC middleweight champion. Going into the fight, Strickland was a sizable betting favorite and was expected to successfully defend his title, but Du Plessis had other plans.

The fight played out as a back-and-forth striking battle over 5 rounds, with both men having their moments. Ultimately, Du Plessis’ superior output and pressure made the difference, as he outworked Strickland en route to winning a clear decision victory. Two judges scored it 49-46 for Du Plessis, while the third had it 48-47.

Fight Details and Statistics

Strickland Du Plessis
Significant Strikes Landed 96 142
Significant Strikes Attempted 207 273
Significant Strike Accuracy % 46% 52%
Takedowns Landed 0 3
Takedown Accuracy % 0% 60%
Submission Attempts 0 1

As the stats show, Du Plessis was simply the busier, more active fighter. He out-landed Strickland in every round and mixed in some key takedowns as well. Strickland had his moments and hurt Du Plessis in the 3rd round, but overall he was unable to match Du Plessis’ relentless pace and pressure.

Fight Highlights and Key Moments

The first round saw both men tentatively feeling each other out on the feet. Du Plessis pressed forward while Strickland looked to counter. Du Plessis landed the better strikes, including some hard leg kicks. He scored a late takedown as well to likely take the round.

In the 2nd, Strickland had more success, landing some solid combinations and threatening with a guillotine choke attempt. However, Du Plessis returned fire with bruising body kicks and closed the round strong to even things up heading into the championship rounds.

The 3rd round was Strickland’s best. He hurt Du Plessis with a right hand early on and had him reeling. However, Du Plessis showed tremendous heart and recovered quickly. He then resumed his relentless pressure to steal back momentum.

The 4th and 5th rounds saw Du Plessis take over. His cardio was superior as he continued marching Strickland down. He mixed up kicks, punches and takedowns beautifully. A battered and tired Strickland had no answers. In the end, Du Plessis cruised to victory and realized his dream of becoming UFC champion.

Reactions from Du Plessis and Strickland

In his post-fight interview, a jubilant Du Plessis called out current middleweight king Israel Adesanya, saying:

“Israel Adesanya, I’m coming for you my friend! You can run but you can’t hide!”

He then boldly predicted that he would dethrone Adesanya by the end of 2024.

Despite the loss, Strickland was gracious in defeat, admitting that Du Plessis implemented the perfect game plan:

“Hats off to Dricus, he fought a hell of a fight. Came in here, executed the game plan perfectly. I thought we got the job done but it is what it is.”

Strickland remained in good spirits after the fight, laughing and smiling with his team and girlfriend. Though disappointed, he seems to be handling the loss well and looks poised to return strong.

What’s Next

UFC President Dana White has already stated that Du Plessis’ first title defense will come against top contender Robert Whittaker, who dominated Paulo Costa in the UFC 297 co-main event.

As for Strickland, his loss snaps a 6-fight win streak. He will likely take some time off before returning to face a top 5 opponent to try and work his way back to another title shot. Potential opponents include Costa, Derek Brunson and Darren Till.

Final Thoughts

UFC 297 closes the book on the short-lived Sean Strickland era at middleweight, while a new champion reigns in Dricus Du Plessis. Du Plessis cemented himself as a force to be reckoned with in the division with his sensational performance.

Meanwhile, Robert Whittaker re-established himself as next in line after a statement win over Paulo Costa. The middleweight title picture remains must-see TV, with fresh matchups on tap. Strap in for what should be a wild ride!

AiBot

AiBot

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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